Mobile clinics have been used to deliver primary health care to populations that otherwise experience difficulty in accessing services. Indigenous populations in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States experience greater health inequities than non-Indigenous populations. There is increasing support for Indigenous-governed and culturally accessible primary health care services which meet the needs of Indigenous populations. There is some support for primary health care mobile clinics implemented specifically for Indigenous populations to improve health service accessibility. The purpose of this review is to scope the literature for evidence of mobile primary health care clinics implemented specifically for Indigenous populations in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.
This review was undertaken using the Joanna Brigg Institute (JBI) scoping review methodology. Review objectives, inclusion criteria and methods were specified in advance and documented in a published protocol. The search included five academic databases and an extensive search of the grey literature.
The search resulted in 1350 unique citations, with 91 of these citations retrieved from the grey literature and targeted organisational websites. Title, abstract and full-text screening was conducted independently by two reviewers, with 123 citations undergoing full text review. Of these, 39 citations discussing 25 mobile clinics, met the inclusion criteria. An additional 14 citations were snowballed from a review of the reference lists of included citations. Of these 25 mobile clinics, the majority were implemented in Australia, followed by United States and Canada. No primary health mobile clinics specifically for Indigenous people in New Zealand were retrieved. There was a pattern of declining locations serviced by mobile clinics with an increasing population. Furthermore, only 13 mobile clinics had some form of evaluation.
There is a paucity of evaluations supporting the use of mobile clinics for Indigenous populations and a need for organisations implementing mobile clinics specifically for Indigenous populations to share their experiences. Engaging with the perspectives of Indigenous people accessing mobile clinic services is imperative to future evaluations.